The Patriot Riders: Guest Post by Miles Walker
Posted on April 9th, 2011 by Jay Green
The Patriot Riders, also known as the Patriot Guard Riders, are more than members of a motorcycle club. They have a deep respect for American veterans who have passed away. Their missions are to go to the funerals of these fallen heroes and protect the families and other mourners from protesters. Comprised of a reported 220,000 members, the Patriot Riders also attend deployment ceremonies and welcome home ceremonies for troops coming back from overseas. The Patriot Guard Riders website http://www.patriotguard.org/ clearly states that they’re “standing for those who stood for US.”
In August of 2005, the American Legion Riders of Mulvane, Kansas were shocked to find out that a group of religious zealots from the Westboro Baptist Church were regularly protesting military funerals. When five of the riders realized that the protesters were preparing to rally at the funeral of Sargent John Doles in Chelsea, OK, they formed a group to strategize against the upcoming protest in Chelsea. Succeeding at the Chelsea mission, the riders convinced other motorcycle riders and veterans across the nation to organize against these protests. The group quickly launched a website, which got nearly 556,000 hits in the first two weeks alone.
In addition to shielding grievers at the infamous 2005 funeral protest in Chelsea, the Patriot Riders have protected veterans’ families and friends across the country. With their motorcades, the riders have physically shielded the mourners against fervent protesters. These traveling defenders have since expanded to Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Wisconsin and a host of other states. They are not simply bodyguards, though; they drown out the chants of protesters by revving their engines and singing patriotic songs.
Since 2005, the Patriot Riders’ duty has been to serve and protect, just like the fallen heroes for whom they have a wealth of respect. Communicating with each other in large part through the Internet, they’ve gone on to attend funerals for police officers, firefighters and first responders. They volunteer for veterans’ organizations, visit military hospitals and assist families with financial troubles. The Patriot Riders don’t care about political affiliation; nor do they make judgements about race, religion or sexuality. They simply wish to honor the departed in a legal and nonviolent way. Their website is decorated in letters of appreciation. These letters say that the riders conduct themselves in a variety of ways: “with kindness and support,” “professionalism and honor” and with “selfless acts.” This is not a typical riding club; it’s a group of white knights on bikes.